(director/writer:Michael Sarnoski; screenwriters: story by Sarnoski & Vanessa Block; cinematographer: Patrick Scola; editor: Brett W. Bachman; music: Alexsis Grapsas/Philip Klein; cast: Nicolas Cage (Rob), Alex Wolff (Amir), Adam Arkin (Darius), Julia Bray (Bree), Elijah Ungvary (Scratch), Cassandra Violet (Lori), Gretchen Corbett (Mac), Darius Pierce (Edgar), David Knell (Head Chef Finway); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Steve Tisch/David Carrico/Nicolas Cage/Adam Paulsen/Dori A. Rath/Joseph Restaino/Dimitra Tsingou/Thomas Benski/Ben Giladi/Vanessa Block: Escape Artists/Neon; 2021)
“Cage, in a brilliant restrained performance, has finally connected with a B-film after countless misfires in recent years.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
First-time feature film director Michael Sarnoski, known for his short films and television, is writer and director of this intimate thinking man’s revenge drama, which turns out to be a touching character story of loss and withdrawal. It tells the story of a complex hermit pursuing the violent asses who stole his beloved pet pig he uses for hunting truffles.
It’s based on a story written by Sarnoski & Vanessa Block (one of the producers).
The full-bearded, bum-like looking and scruffy Robin (Nicolas Cage), after dropping out of the grid when he left the restaurant industry 15 years ago, lives alone in a bare cabin in the Oregon wilderness hunting truffles with his beloved pig, his only companion. After collecting the truffles, he sells them once a week to his grating and awkward yuppie buyer Amir (Alex Wolff).
On one disastrous occasion some unseen characters attack Rob and rough him up and take his pig. The pig is not only his only companion but is his only means of making a living. To get back the pig, Amir, in his flashy yellow Camaro, drives the legendary truffle hunter figure to Portland and around town to track down the underworld figures involved in the incident. They are connected with the food industry that buys his truffles for upscale restaurants.
The moody, atmospheric film is told in three chapters—titled “Rustic Mountain Tart”—into which “Pig” is divided (the other two will be called “Mom’s French Toast and Deconstructed Scallops” and “A Bird, a Bottle & a Salted Baguette”).
We begin to get to the bottom of the mystery when Rob on his journey must revisit the life he abandoned. He contacts known truffle hunters (Gretchen Corbett & Elijah Ungvary), who direct him to an underground Portland fight club for restaurant workers run by a surly fellow named Edgar (Darius Pierce). This leads him next to visit the head chef (David Knell) of a ritzy restaurant. The trail will then lead to the palatial home of Amir’s sinister food dealer father Darius (Adam Arkin). Their meeting will present revelations about Rob’s past and clues to the whereabouts of his beloved pig.
In the final act, the voice of the unseen Lara (Cassandra Violet) lets out some of the secrets why Rob fled the city for his ultra-quiet life in the wilderness.
Cage, in a brilliant restrained performance, has finally connected with a B-film after countless misfires in recent years.
REVIEWED ON 7/17/2021 GRADE: A